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PUBLISHED: 4:33 PM on Wednesday, April 11, 2007
A virtual sidewalk with blogging across Southeast Alaska

Last week I paid my bills, talked to a friend in New Zealand and read a newspaper from Texas and never left my desk.

With a few clicks of the mouse, I was cruising the Internet and accomplishing a number of tasks with ease and efficiency.

While doing these things online is commonplace now, it wasn't that long ago that the Internet was a foreign concept. My family first got a home computer online when I was in junior high.

So I was privileged enough to grow up learning how to use this tool throughout my school days.

No longer did I have to thumb through an encyclopedia or stacks in the library to write a research paper.

I could do a quick search online and get more than enough material, which was great until it came time to site my sources and my English teacher had to find a way for students to do so.

I first used an instant messenger when I was in high school, and still use it from time to time to keep in touch with my friends who are scattered across the country and the world. It's inexpensive, fast and easy.

Still I feel like I'm behind on the use of modern technology when I see teenagers today using the Internet as if they were born with a computer on their lap. It makes sense then that things have always been in a more traditional format move into the sector of technology advances.

It's happening everywhere. You can find out the latest scores to a game, the weather in Seattle and the latest news about almost any zip code in an instant.

Not only can information be instant, but so can the sharing of opinions and views. Blogs, or Web logs, quickly gained popularity during the 2004 president election. Some critics credit blogs to the outcome of the election, but that's a discussion for another time.

It seems as if now blogs are everywhere. You can find people posting information on everything from cooking to karate. While some of these blogs are personal diaries posted online for public view, others are informative and an open exchange of tips on a variety of topics.

The Capital City Weekly Sidewalk Poll has always been a staple of the publication. It's fun to know what people think and to see the faces behind those comments.

The lineup consists of six people with their comments on a question and a photo.

Capital City Weekly is circulated across Southeast Alaska and should reflect that.

However, it's not easy to gather comments and photos from those across the region. That's where the use of the Internet is coming into play.

Last week Capital City Weekly launched Sidewalk Blog at juneaublogger.com/sidewalk. Here folks from anywhere can get online and answer the question of the week.

No longer is the question limited to six individuals at random, but open to whomever wants to share their views. Consider it a virtual sidewalk where anyone can participate.

You get to control how you are represented - send in a photo or not and say whatever it is that is on your mind.

At this online venue, you can also propose questions for future Sidewalk Polls. And while the number of comments online is unlimited, some of these comments are shared in the print edition of the Capital City Weekly each week.

Media are not one-way avenues, and I'm excited to see the exchange of views in this online forum. So go online and let us know what you think. See you on the Web!

Gragert is editor at Capital City Weekly. Send e-mail to her at amanda.gragert@capweek.com.


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